Clear the Runway

Last week, my wife had the idea of hanging a map of China on the wall in our new place and giving every student that comes to our Bible study a pin to put in their hometown. I’ve really been amazed at how many of the students here are from other provinces, many very far away from our city. The way it works, as I understand it anyway, is that they all take some kind of test at the end of high school, then they give them some options about where they can go.

The universities here are really amazing. When I tried to go to the English corner last Friday, I had the taxi driver drop me off at a different gate, and I totally got lost for forty minutes walking around the campus. But the sights of the multiplied thousands of college students were worth it. Dorm after dorm after dorm. Practically its own city.

Anyway, the map has turned into a really incredible illustration of the potential of a powerful church among college students in China. There are pins all over the map, from the very northern tip of China, all the way south in Hainan. I’ve been really surprised how evenly they’re spread out. I definitely thought there’d be a considerable majority from this province, and a few from around the country. Hardly. We’ve got far more pins outside the province border than inside it.

So, what’s the potential? Thousands of college students in a new city for, most of them, at least four years, though many of them stay for postgraduate studies. And, to borrow one of the tritest of missions clichés, they’re all going home at the end of their studies, anyway. Though most of them will hardly be uber-trained super-missionaries, but hopefully many of them will be mature Christians who could serve as foundational blocks for future church plants. In the meantime, and in a much more serious vein of thought than the cliché, every student here has their own countdown. We have tons of work to do, and potentially only a couple of years to do it in. It’s not near as much fun to talk about the honest difficulty of pushing Christians out of the nest after four years, hoping they don’t just plummet to the ground below, than it is to talk about “sending Christians back home to win their families and friends.”

This is why our “pre-flight” check will have to be so thorough. It’s our responsibility to bring believers to maturity. And if they’re supposed to fly solo after four years, we have to make sure they’ve had plenty of the right stuff put into them (I almost said ‘ducks in a row,’ but that’s really too much metaphor for one paragraph). Not only that, but we need to do our best to make lifelines that can reach all over China, providing opportunities for these stranded Christians to continue to learn and grown and reach others. Believe it or not, the average Christian (Chinese, American, or whatever) does not have any idea how to show up in a city of lost people by himself and start a church. So, if we want different results, we’re going to have to have some kind of a crazy plan. Ideas?

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2 Comments on “Clear the Runway”

  1. Trent October 17, 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    How bout it fella’. Sure would like to see that map you are talking about. Take one of your flashing boxes and capture a photo of it.

  2. Older Brother October 18, 2007 at 7:34 am #

    I agree with Trent, a copy of that map would be encouraging to the whole church, not just the training center. Went to Arequipa recently for a pastor’s convention/congress. There were people there from all over SA. It was impressive to see what one work had accomplished over the years! Everybody should see that!

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